Burr Ridge siblings create bracelets in fundraising efforts

Burr Ridge siblings Sophia and Maclane Zich will have plenty to write about if their teachers at St. John of the Cross School ask for a composition on “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.”

Beginning the first day of summer vacation and going through late July, the Ziches created and sold rainbow loom bracelets, raising $471 for pediatric brain tumor research and family services programs at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

“Our mom always says how proud she is of us for selling the bracelets,” said Sophia, 8, who first learned how to make the popular kids’ fashion accessory from a cousin.

Their mother, Julie, is a proud parent, noting the siblings took the initiative after a discussion about what charity work the two wanted to take on for the summer. Sophia, who was making a rainbow loom bracelet at the time, immediately responded with the bracelet idea, a hobby she and her brother have been involved in for about a year.

When Julie asked what their cause should be, Sophia and younger brother, Maclane, 6 ½, both felt pediatric research should be the cause seeing as a cousin, Tyler Duelm of La Grange, died of a brain tumor in 2007, at the age of 3.

Sophia and Maclane, who will be entering third and first grade, respectively, at St. John of the Cross in Western Springs, set a goal of raising $50 with their bracelet sales by the Run for Gus, an annual family event, which this year was July 24. The event, which the family members did as part of Team Tyler, includes a 5-kilometer run, a 1-mile walk and a kids race, all to raise money for pediatric brain tumor research.

When friends, neighbors and family members made $10, $20 and even $50 donations for the bracelets that had a $1 price tag, the siblings revised their goal and then set their sights on topping their grandmother’s donation to the research effort.

One 8-year-old boy went and got $20 of his own money and wanted to contribute to the cause when Sophia was showing bracelets to a friend.

“I feel really happy with what we did,” Sophia said. “I am very proud.”

Each bracelet takes 10-15 minutes to make and is a popular activity among their peers, Sophia and Maclane said.

As the siblings worked quietly on creating starburst and zippy chain bracelets one afternoon earlier this week, Julie Zich noted that the rainbow looms are a great activity, requiring youth to focus and use their dexterity to make creations, as well as providing the opportunity for sharing materials and ideas.

“How wonderful it is to see kids doing something like this, kids working together,” Julie said. “You don’t see that today.”

With a summer full of tennis, Italian classes and swimming for both kids, as well as basketball for Maclane and gymnastics for Sophia, the rainbow bracelets were not always a 24/7 activity for the youths, but on drives to the family’s lake house and down times around the house, the bracelet-making was done.

“We’ve done these most of the summer,” Maclane said. “They are something you can make in the car.”

The Zich children expect to still be in the rainbow bracelet business next year, noting that they are at the advanced level from watching YouTube videos, but not yet at the expert level where they can make any bracelet in the loom lineup. They also expect to keep raising money for pediatric brain tumor research.

Even though Tyler died before Maclane was born and when Sophia was just a toddler, the siblings felt raising money in his memory was a good thing to do. All bracelet buyers also received a colorful flier of thanks from the Ziches.

“I am so proud of them,” Julie said. “We tried to do a charity thing last summer, but it didn’t really work. But from the first day of summer vacation this year, they have been going and selling these bracelets.”

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